Today at church, the topic was “Why Are You So Angry?”. I’m very interested in this topic because anger is one of the things I struggle with. It will often come up out of the blue. I won’t realize I am angry until I feel that buzzing feeling in my face as all of the blood rushes to it and notice that my heart is racing. I feel like I’ve got a much better handle on it now, but I listen to the sermon intently trying to take it to heart for my life and trying not to think about everyone else I see dealing with anger issues.
Today is a busy day even though the Bengals are on a bye week. Kayla is home. It’s the first Sunday of the month, so IANDS is meeting. And it’s our Helping Parents Heal meeting day. I get my walk in. That is my first priority for my mental health. So, I always make it the first thing I do during the day. I come back, go to church and Tywana and I come home. Now it’s decision time. Kayla is leaving soon to go back to school. Do I spend a little more time with her or do I go to the meeting? My decision is made for me when I find out she is going out to get her eyebrows done. I head off to the meeting.
We begin the meeting with introductions. These are usually short and sweet. Today though, someone has had someone close to him pass away just hours before. So, he takes some time to relay that story, appropriately so. We try to console him as best you can in these situations and continue around the cirlce. I guess a couple of other people take that as permission to share their stories, long stories, during their time to introduce themselves. I am one of those people who is extremely mindful of other people’s time- to a fault. Since we’re sharing stories, I give the one minute version of mine and yield the floor to the next person.
The meeting morphs into a general discussion. We are throwing out ideas and discussing them. The first guy who decided to share his life’s story that took at least five minutes (seemed like 10 and with very little point) is criticizing everyone else making definitive statements about what of their experiences and/or beliefs is or isn’t true. This touches on two of my pet peeves. Know-it-alls and people who bully. Kathy has told us just a few hours earlier that what makes you angry is something you have inside you or have had inside you. As someone who studies things quite deeply, I can come across as a know-it-all. My “nickname” (what’s the word for a nickname you hate) was “Professor” when I was a kid (the character on Gilligan’s Island). I often hide what I do know so I don’t come across as a know-it-all. And, when I do share, I am extremely careful to not crush other people’s beliefs and especially their experiences. But, here’s this guy talking pseuod-science explaining why the guy who says he has hypno-regressed and experienced 30 plus past lives and how much that has helped him is wrong about the whole thing. He goes on some long rant about how none of our experiences are truly objective they are merely experiences being played back to us by our brains (I wish he had put it that way- I’m summarizing another five minute speech). The Popeye in me comes out “That’s alls I can stand. I can’t stands no more.” I begin to lay out to him how science, which he claims to know so well, cannot prove a negative. Science cannot say that other dimensions don’t exist, for example which he has stated definitively. Lest this post get as long as our “debate”, I’ll mercifully leave out the details as I painted him into a corner I knew he could not escape from, but he began to squirm around and never would admit he was wrong about the fact that he was operating from a particular paradigm and could possibly know the things he claimed to know.
Then, I observed myself. I was genuinely angry. I was not going to let this guy bully everyone else in the group. He had shot down no less than four people. But, people were getting uncomfortable with our back and forth. The poor woman next to me whispered to me she had been completely lost and had no interest in physics. She was getting a headache. I told her she had no need to have a knowledge or interest in physics to attend the group and that’s when I realized by continuing to go at this guy, I was contributing to the problem. My face was buzzing. My heart was racing. Then I took a step back and realized I was, in real life, dealing with one of my Facebook adversaries. These are peopel who will dazzle with bullshit until you finally get tired and go away. Then, they will sit back and think they “won”. I knew there was no winning with this guy. And, I came back into myself. I calmed my breathing. I acknowledged this wasn’t someone here to learn or to share as he had said in his introduction. This was someone who had a point of view he was not about to change and he wanted to bend everyone to his will.
I summarized my point, addressing the group, not this individual. We had been discussing reincarnation. I said “If it brings you comfort and makes sense to you, I say you should go with that. John (not his real name) brings up some good objections and problems with the common view of reincarnation. And, I offered some possible answers to those objections- to the group- again not addressing him. I acknowledged my anger and I put it away.
I don’t get angry that often, especialy with strangers in a group of people I hardly know, but this guy really pushed my buttons. I know why. There is something in him that is in me and I have to keep chained up. There are probably people who think I am a “know it all” and I have to be careful with that perception. Nobody likes a know it all. On some topics I do know quite a bit. I’ve been studying death for 15 years now, intensely for 16 months. I find that almost whenever someone names a book or an interview or a technique I’ve seen it or I’ve read it or I’m famliar with it. I’ve amassed quite a bit of knowledge. Maybe that guy was there as a reminder to me to not become so fully of myself that I think I know it all. My model is still constantly shifting as I gather more data, but even as much as it might seem I know I know I still know relativey nothing. Thanks for the lesson. I hope that next time I don’t take the bait.
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